R21 aka Restoring Solidarity is a film about making a film. It’s also a film about films that exist on the margins of documentary, fiction, and an archive. The set-up was to make a narrative out of a collection of 20 films, with the intention to send out a message of solidarity. While lost in translation, the filmmaker is haunted by a voice that is comprehending the need to save these films and images.
The journey starts and ends in a lab, using a film scanner as a time machine, capturing a history of the Palestinian struggle as seen by a Japanese audience. For many of them, the films reveal yet another story of injustice related to post World War II politics, a history that both peoples understand. From images of demonstrations against the renewal of the defence treaty between the USA and Japan, to iconic images of a Palestinian guerrilla training camp in Jordan, from Hiroshima and Nagasaki to Sabra and Shalita, the film bridges the history of Japan with Palestine.
The selected scenes from the 20 films found in Tokyo are spliced, synched, and mixed in search of a narrative, a discourse, of a collector, a collective, a network of distribution, a tradition of screening films as a political act. At the same time, uncovering a cinematic wealth that was driven and produced out of solidarity, out of the intentions and motives of a film programmer. While travelling through time in the world of committed cinema, questions emerge continuously in the background: how did these films reach Japan? When? Why, and by whom?
Although the film does not busy itself with answering these questions, it still recognizes the importance of such gestures of solidarity and returns a gesture of its own. Building on a practice of writing letters, the film expresses compassion and understanding across contexts through analysing not only the images, but the conditions, the needs, and the circumstances surrounding the existence of the collection. It finds its voice in the formation of a narrator in search of a reason to tell a story.
- Tokyo Reels Film Festival, documenta 15, June 2022
- International Doc. Festival Amsterdam, IDFA, Nov 2022 (World Premiere)
- Marrakech Film Festival, Nov 2022 (African premiere)
- Jerusalem International Film Festival, Dec 2022 (Olive d’Or winner)